Sunday, September 28, 2014

For the Love of Binders

Who loves binders?  Me, me!  I do, I do!  I love them so much I decided my whole classroom filing system needed to be converted from files to binders.  Yes, that's 20 years of files converted to binders right on my kitchen table in July.  Because what else is there to do in July when you're a teacher?  Right Kristin from  She is my inspiration (or shall I say cause my inferiority complex?)  After reading all about Kristin's decision to convert her filing system, I was ready to tackle the project myself.  Just me, binder, page protectors, my computer, and a lot of time.  Remember, it was July and I am a teacher.  That means I had a lot of time of my hands...oh, if only...

So, off I went to Walmart.  Inexpensive binder and page protectors R Us!   Even still, my vacation money began to disappear on school supplies.  Oh well, I will just love these binders for the rest of my life ( or until I get some other idea of organization!)  So, I stocked up.  My "green" friend Andrea would be so disappointed in the copious amounts of plastic that adorned my kitchen table.  However, I trudged on toward complete binder organization.

After a few days of sitting and stuffing sheet after sheet of paper into plastic protectors, I began to see progress.  In fact, I loved the slick feel as I flipped the pages of my beautiful binders.  Only teachers can understand the love of school supplies like this.  Soon, I had binders for each month and their themes, Language Arts, Literature, Math, Writing, Assessment, Morning Work, and Miscellaneous. What a beautiful thing...

Do you see the lights from "Teacher Heaven" shining down?

I would like to point our one thing...there is no Miscellaneous binder.  That is because it is nowhere to be found.  Remember last week when I said I often throw things away and my husband has to dumpster dive to find them?  Well I wish that was the case.  However, in all my grand organization, I misplaced my miscellaneous file, therefore, there is NO miscellaneous binder.  Boo hoo!  So, for that, I start from scratch.  Yippee...another project.

I am just starting to post items on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you'd like to see the binder covers here is the link.  Nicole Bickham's Binder Covers  Here is a sample:

These binder spine labels work for 2" binders or 1 1/2".  I hope you like them.

Happy, happy, wishes for binder happiness!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Organization is Key!

Organization is my friend.  I love everything in it's place.  I love it so, that if something is not in it's place often times my husband has to dumpster dive to find it.  I digress...

In my classroom, the more organized I am, the better the days go.  Duh?!  So I thought I would share some tools of my trade that have made my days run smoothly and keep me organized.


IKEA desk tubs.  Well that's what I use them for.  The smaller, blue tub holds crayons, pencils, scissors, glue sticks, dry erase markers, etc.  The larger green tub holds books, work in progress, white boards, and necessary larger items.

These have kept our desks clean and organized and avoid the black hole of a student desk.  I highly recommend them.  Here is a link if you want to check them out...IKEA boxes.

Another great and helpful tool is these chair pockets from Really Good Stuff.  Those people have some "really good stuff!"  I have used these for years and they are fantastic.  They store the kiddos reward tickets, lunch cards, and Lexia cards in the red zipper pouch.  All the completed work from the day goes in the pocket.  At the end of each day, the kiddos take their work out of the chair pocket and put it into their backpacks.  Brilliant people!  No more mailboxes and filing systems.  Can I get an Amen?!  Check them out HERE.

Now, after my summer reading of first grade blogs, I stumbled upon SIT SPOTS!  I mean change the world people!

They are stuck on that carpet.  Vacuum over them and they stay put.  Can't you hear me saying, "Criss cross, sit on a spot!"  I have them placed for partners to sit together.  You know all that Think, Pair, Share stuff we learned about in college?!  Anywhoo, these little spots are life changing.  No more crowded carpet time.  We all have a spot.  No more sit by my friend and play with her hair.  We all have a spot.  No more crawl under the table while teacher reads.  Nope!  We all have a spot.  And, have I mentioned they are perfect for lining up or games?  I have even considered a behavior strategy of "walking the dots."  Rest easy, I haven't employed that yet.  Yet, I say!  If you want to check them out, do it HERE

I also love these nametag holders and book boxes...

The nametag holders (not holding a nametag in the picture) are from Really Good Stuff.  The book boxes link together to avoid spilling.  They came from Lakeshore Learning.  I didn't use them with the large holder they came with.  I like them center stage in each group so the kiddos can access them all day long.  Just like the tissue box and hand gel...ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  Why do some kids think tissues are great sources of paper to write on?  And hand gel cures every ailment know to 6 year olds.  Once again, I digress.

So there you have it friends.  Just a few of my "must haves" for organization.  I could go on with so many more (larger pencils, special glue bottles, bookmarks, color coding system, etc.) but I think that principal husband of mine is talking to me.  I should act like I'm listening or I'll get in trouble.

Happy days friends!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In the blink of an eye...

How did it happen?  I went from this...

summer days of bliss with beach trips, sleeping in, late nights, lunches with girlfriends, no responsibilities, time to actually plan a menu and cook...

to this...

school started.  My oldest is enjoying her second year of high school.  My youngest left me after spending Kindergarten through sixth grade at school with me every day.  I cried.  Tears.  At the awards assembly for 6th grade.  On the last day.  All summer.  Every time I thought that my girls are growing up.  Then, this happened...MY HUSBAND IS MY BOSS!  Let me clarify...he is my boss AT WORK.  He is the Interim Principal at my school while our principal takes a leave of absence.  While I mourned the loss of my baby girl moving on up to junior high school, did I ever think I would then go to work with my husband?  Every.  Single.  Day.  Call the marriage counselors now!  

All kidding aside, it has been a wonderful experience.  An experience we will cherish and treasure for the rest of our lives.  He is exceptional as a leader (At SCHOOL PEOPLE!  Let's remember who leads at home) and it is a privilege to watch him work his magic among children and staff.  I am so proud of him!  And, truth is, I am so hoping to get sent to the principal's office!!!

Welcome back to school to you all.  Whether your kids are young, old, moving on up, or still with you, may your year be the best yet!  uh oh...I think the intercom just called!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Morning Message

One of the things I have come to love is Morning Message.  It's a 20 minutes block of time in the morning where we come together on the carpet to read, review, and enjoy a message.  It contains so many skills that we revisit and reinforce.   Morning Message has become an essential to my teaching day.  I believe it brings so much together for each learner.  Here's how it looks...

Marvelous Monday...Editing capitals and punctuation
Tangled Tuesday...unscrambling spelling and high frequency words or sentences
Wacky Wednesday...crazy mispellings, homophones, mistakes, grammar skills, etc
Thinking Thursday...math skills
Fun Friday...jokes, closure questions from Social Studies/Science

There are so many resources about Morning Message.  I have borrowed and stolen so many to make something that fits our first grade classroom.  My favorite part of each message is the ending special saying for our "Deputy of the Day" or student of the day.  I send the messages home each day with that student.  I've been told by former students and their parents that those messages stay up for months and months.  That makes it all worth it!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Sneak Peak...

I wanted to show you the finished product of my crate seats in my classroom.  Here is also a picture of the rocking sofa that matches.  I've had the sofa for about 15 years.  I bought it at a yard sale for $25.  My grandma and I recovered it once and just last summer a wonderful parent of a former student recovered it again.  I love it and so do the kids!  All the first grade blogs and Pinterest postings have inspired me so much.  Check out the lamp!  A Target lamp embellished with felt flowers.  I just used my Sizzix machine to cute some felt and used a felting tool to fuse the flowers together and BAM...a cute lamp!  I am all about cute!  Well, I think these things make my home away from home feel more like a home!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Copy Cat

Well after reading many blogs and Pinterest posts about crate seats, I made my own.  My first graders are loving them and so am I.  Not only are they terrific for partner reading, centers, or just sitting upon, they store things...books, center tasks, art projects, and so much more!  Not only have I loved them, but so do all the teacheres that come in my room.  They are contagious at my school and now there will be more copy cats!!!  They were simple to make too...Home Depot will cut the plywood for you to fit the top of the crate.  Sand the sides.   Cut foam from the fabric store to fit the plywood and adhere it with spray adhesive.  Cover it with fabric and staple gun it to the underside of the plywood.  I added a ribbon pull to make it easier to open the crates.  I finished it with some scotch guard to protect the fabric.  Now, these crate seats have a home in my classroom.  They even match my rocking sofa for reading time!  Love it!!!